Open Country Birding
March 8, 2014
We started off the morning at Dobbins Farm, where we were greeting by about twenty Wilson's Snipe flushing away as we pulled up. Several of these birds settled back down nearby and offered nice views. At the farm ponds, we found nine species of ducks, including both Greater and Lesser Scaup, Redheads, American Wigeon, and both Teal. A Great Egret came flying lazily in as we sorted through the ducks, and Tree Swallows constantly zipped over the water, often dipping down to drink.
As we surveyed the ponds and adjacent fields, we also found a good variety of open-country birds, including Meadowlarks, Horned Larks, and American Pipits, and plenty of Savannah Sparrows. A few members of the group were able to get a look at a Vesper Sparrow before it scooted away. Near the southern pond at Dobbins, we found a small flock of Brewer's Blackbirds!
We next enjoyed a walk into nearby Beaverdam Creek Wildlife Management Area, where we immediately had some nice looks at a few Red-headed Woodpeckers. As we walked in, we found both Kinglets, including a Golden-crowned that came in nice and close, a Red-shouldered Hawk, a Hermit Thrush, and the first of an army of Yellow-rumped Warblers for the day. On and around the impoundments were Wood Ducks, Northern Shovelers, a Kingfisher, and Swamp and White-throated Sparrows.
At the other end of Beaverdam Creek, we enjoyed our picnic lunch and also managed to coax a couple of Brown-headed Nuthatches into view, as well as get a very distant glimpse of an early Purple Martin.
After lunch we moved on to Prater Farm, where we searched for the resident Barn Owl to no avail. We found two falcons in the form of an American Kestrel and a Merlin that streaked only a few feet above one of us. After chatting for a while with the farm's owner, one of the participants spotted one of our biggest targets for the trip: Loggerhead Shrike!
After this highlight, a few members of the group headed for home, while some of us stopped by Townville Landing for a brief look at Lake Hartwell before calling it a day. There we spotted a few Common Loons and a Horned Grebe, and had a handful of Ring-billed and Bonaparte's Gulls wandering by. In all, it was a very pleasant day, with good weather, great company and birds. We finished with 79 species seen and/or heard.